You can find cuisine from all over the world in Washington, D.C., and sushi is no exception. From bento box lunches and omakase counters to hip spots with rooftop views and Japanese whisky bars, D.C has all your sushi cravings covered. Here are 10 ideas on where to go for nigiri and beyond in D.C.
Hand rolls are the thing to try at this hip, casual Japanese spot in D.C.'s Logan Circle neighborhood. The restaurant specializes in crispy seaweed rolls you eat with your hands that look like unsliced sushi. Fillings include salmon, yellow tail, and blue crab. There's even a vegan menu with asparagus, mushroom, radish or avocado rolls, so everyone can get on board with Hando Medo. Choose a combo so you can pick an assortment of sushi, and don't forget to try the chef's special.
It's off the beaten path, but Kotobuki is a long-running sushi spot in Washington, D.C. The setting is simple, with a long bar along the sushi counter. Lunch is a great deal here, with specials piled with tuna, whitefish, yellow tail and California rolls starting at $11.95. The restaurant also specializes in kamameshi dishes, or vegetables and meat which have been prepared in a iron kettle, per tradition.
Kotobuki is expanding too: in spring 2019, the owners took over the neighboring space that previously held Japanese spot Makoto. In its place, they opened Rakumi, an izakaya and sake house with bento boxes, udon noodle dishes, and shabu shabu (Japanese hot pot).
Searching for sushi on the Hill? Leave it in the chef's hands at Sushi Capitol, which has been a longtime favorite for its $50 omakase menu, where a parade of tuna nigiri and other delicacies arrive at your table. Some sushi fans say this omakase experience just might be the best value in town.
Sushi Capitol is branching out too: A new location is heading to Chinatown very soon and Sushi Capitol's owner Chef Minoru Ogawa just opened an intimate omakase style, eight-seat sushi counter called Mini Sushi Bar at the luxurious Mandarin Oriental hotel in Washington, D.C., spring 2019.
Chevy Chase's Sushiko is a destination for Washingtonians and has landed on critics' top lists for years, thanks to its obsessive focus on fresh fish. The sushi here is beautifully plated, and the serene restaurant's art is just as colorful. One popular option here is the omakase, where a chef delivers premium sashimi cuts, nigiri, and extras like a sakura sundae.
Don't settle for ho-hum sushi downtown when you could be at Sushi Gakyu. The stylish, new-ish spot serves up rolls you know (like spicy tuna roll, eel avocado roll and shrimp tempura roll) and sushi options that go way beyond the ordinary (like the in-house specialty narezushi, or fermented sushi). Bento boxes make this sushi restaurant near the White House a great lunch spot too.
The Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C. pulled in a sushi super star for its restaurant downstairs, which opened in 2018. Sushi Nakazawa is the brainchild of NYC chef Daisuke Nakazawa, who gained fame with the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” At this very zen D.C. outpost, you'll be treated to a 20-course omakase experience seated directly in front of the sushi chefs. Fish is flown in daily so the menu is constantly changing and evolving. But standouts include hay-smoked sockeye salmon and a trio of the most tender tuna, from lean to medium fatty to fatty tuna. Naturally, the sake list here is just as carefully considered.
In Dupont Circle, Sushi Taro is bustling at lunch time, thanks in part to affordable bento boxes filled with everything from sushi to fried chicken. This Washington favorite has traditional, spare decor and it's racked up acclaim, earning a Michelin star in 2019 for its omakase counter experience. It can be tough to snag a reservation for the omakase counter, but there's always sushi a la carte, with unique options like king crab mac & cheese or habanero scallops.
Nama Sushi Bar
Nama Sushi opened in 2018 in Mount Vernon Triangle as an intimate neighborhood sushi spot where diners will also find Japanese-inspired small plates like Kobe sliders. Sushi options here include tuna and jalapeño maki rolls, Maryland crab "California rolls," and royal trumpet mushroom nigiri for vegetarians. The decor includes chandeliers and purple accents, with sake at the bar and yuzu sorbet for dessert. Nama comes to D.C. from restaurateur Michael Schlow, who owns Italian spot Alta Strada right next door.
Nobu Washington D.C.
Sushi palace Nobu opened a branch in Washington back in 2017, in the well-heeled West End neighborhood. Diners at this luxurious sushi chain know that they're getting into a pricey affair, with omakase running up to $150 per person. The Tanoshi Hour is a cost-effective way to experience D.C.'s Nobu outpost: find $10 cocktails, $12 orders of Nobu-style tacos with lobsters, and rolls priced at $8 and up.
A sleek new sushi spot opened in Union Market recently, boasting a roof deck with views all the way to the Capitol. O-Ku DC comes to Washington via Charleston, SC. The menu includes unique rolls like the “Unagi Roll” with fresh water eel, English cucumber, XO cognac reduction and sansho peppercorn. There's also aburi-style sushi that's been slightly seared by O-Ku's robata grill, fueled by petrified white oak from Japan. There are also options beyond sushi, including miso-braised short ribs and yakitori. The upstairs bar specializes in Japanese whiskey with cocktails using liquors from nearby Cotton & Reed distillery.